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Looking Back at 4th and 25, and Moving Forward

Coach Hugh Freeze
Coach Hugh Freeze says a word of encouragement as Ole Miss football players sway back and forth before entering the field. (Photo by Danny Dickey)

On November 7, 2015, the stage was set for the 7-2 Ole Miss Rebels to control their own destiny in the vaunted SEC West with two games remaining, as the Arkansas Razorbacks lined up for one last desperation attempt at converting a 4th and 25 in overtime.

As the play developed, Arkansas QB Brandon Allen was flushed to left and threw across his body to a wide open Hunter Henry. Short of the line to gain, Henry began to go down as the Rebel crowd and sideline erupted in celebration. Just before his knee hit the ground, he was able to heave the ball behind his head, only for it to fall into the hands of the Razorbacks talented running back Alex Collins. With room to run, the Rebel defense was in no position to reverse field in order to get Collins to the ground, and he was able to get the first down and keep Arkansas alive.

A stunned Ole Miss team and crowd then was watched in shock as Allen was able to find Drew Morgan for a TD. A gutsy call by Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema to attempt a 2-point conversion, was thwarted by Marquis Haynes; again, the crowd erupted. A lone yellow flag was thrown at the spot where Allen was brought down. A face-mask penalty called on Haynes gave the Razorbacks yet another opportunity to pull off the upset, which they capitalized on.

By the final of 53-52, the Rebels fell. In a game with over 1,000 yards of total offense, 100 points and 0 turnovers, Rebel Nation will forever remember the matchup by a miraculous disaster that had to be seen to be believed.

While many of the players from both teams have been replaced with new faces, a new chapter has been written in this rivalry. Fortunately for the Rebels, Chad Kelly is still at the helm.

With 368 yards and 3 TDs in last year’s matchup, Kelly was able to dominate the Razorback defense with his arm. He was able to add another element with his legs while surpassing 100 yards on the ground and added another three scores. Laquon Treadwell was Ole Miss’ leading receiver in the game. So, it will be interesting to see who steps up as Kelly’s favorite target this Saturday. Leading the team entering the game is TE Evan Engram with 30 receptions.

With the return of the rushing attack last week against Memphis, Ole Miss will have to continue to find ways to run the ball effectively against the Arkansas defense.

Players, fans and coaches have relived that moment many times in the days since, and the Rebels trip to Fayetteville on Saturday will again conjure up the memory of that night. The Rebels (3-2) come in as winners of their last two games, and well rested after a bye week. Arkansas (4-2) fell to Alabama last week. They will be hungry as they continue to look for their first SEC victory of the season.

Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com.

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